The solstice may be the official start of summer, but the cool kids know it starts to feel like summer on Memorial Day weekend. To help you celebrate, we've put together a guide to the best events in NYC taking place over those three festive days.
Kings County Fair at Floyd Bennett Field
Looking for artisanal vendors and art installations? Look elsewhere. Looking for good, clean family fun at a traveling midway, with scores of rides, games and concession stands? Look no further.
The men and women of the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard come to town for this annual celebration. The public is invited to take tours of ships, see concerts and watch aviation demos—all for free. At the Intrepid, you'll also get to see Top Gun (and meet Tom Cruise's former Navy pilot/NASA astronaut stunt double).
The Rentals at Music Hall of Williamsburg
Former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp's synth-heavy side project turned main gig put out Lost in Alphaville last year. If you liked the band's 1995 debut, the new album may be up your alley.
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg at New York City Center
The company brings its touring production of the Jazz Age psychological drama (yes, all that in a ballet!) Up and Down to New York City.
Lower East Side Festival of the Arts at Theater for the New City
Poets, puppeteers, dancers and filmmakers are among the many creative types populating this celebration, which is in its 20th year.
Visit Coney Island
America’s first and best seaside fun zone—yes, we’re biased, but it’s just empirically true—offers amazing spectacles (the sideshow!), thrilling rides (the Cyclone!) and the City’s beachiest cuisine (Nathan’s!). Go over the weekend, and all summer long.
Public Beaches Open
The City offers 14 miles of sandy, relaxing spaces on which to spread out this summer. Though Staten Island and Brooklyn boast the most beaches of all the boroughs, Queens’ Rockaway Beach and the Bronx’s Orchard Beach should not be missed.
Ranger’s Choice: Hidden New York: Calvert Vaux Discovery Hike
Explore Calvert Vaux Park—named for the famed architect-designer who created Central Park with Frederick Law Olmsted—with NYC Urban Park Rangers, who will reveal some of the parkland’s exceptional features like sunken barges and a variety of birds that inhabit this green space on Gravesend Bay in South Brooklyn.
Color Run 5K at Citi Field
This race, during which participants get doused in different colored powders every kilometer, calls itself the “Happiest 5k on the Planet.” It may also be a boon for the laundry-detergent industry.
Föllakzoid and SQÜRL at Rough Trade
Föllakzoid is a Santiago, Chile–based band of psych rockers. SQÜRL is an experimental rock troupe cofounded by indie director Jim Jarmusch. Both feature umlauts in their names.
Brite Nites at Webster Hall
Spend Saturday night dancing to the banging sounds of Boys Noize, Spank Rock, Mr. Oizo and others.
Electric Daisy Carnival at MetLife Stadium
Don your crop tops and jean shorts; this EDM festival in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will get sweaty.
May 23–late September
Governors Island Opening
Come for the bike paths, hammocks and food vendors, as well as to see the progress of the straightforwardly named Hills, the island's latest development, which will eventually offer views of Staten Island, New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline; on Sunday, a family festival will feature puppet making, performances and green workshops.
Night Lights at Wave Hill
Don’t miss your last chance to visit Wave Hill after dark. On display in Wave Hill’s aquatic garden, The Lightening—an installation by artist Chris Doyle—combines sculpture, animation, lights and soundscapes with the sounds of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and composer Jeremy Turner.
Remembering Tomorrow: Celebrating New York’s Two Great World’s Fairs
As part of its ongoing celebrations of the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs, the Queens Museum hosts this free event featuring films and photographs from the festive futurist occasions—plus Q&A sessions featuring world’s fair scholar and author Bill Cotter and television and film executive Albert Fisher.
ASSSSCAT 3000 at UCB Theatre Chelsea
If you're off from work on Monday, this is a good weekend to wait on the long line for the free 9:30pm ASSSSCAT performance and settle in for a fun night of improv. You may even see a familiar face; famous comedians have been known to drop by from time to time, and Amy Poehler's even on the subject-to-change cast list. The 7:30pm paid show is already sold out.
Mets vs. Phillies
Baseball, a hot dog (or tofu dog) in your hand…what could be more American? The Mets are off to a good start, so grab tickets early.
Yankees vs. Royals
It's sunscreen giveaway day at Yankee Stadium, so go ahead—sit in the upper deck.
Annual Memorial Day Concert at Green-Wood Cemetery
Listen as the ISO Symphonic Band plays compositions by musicians interred at Green-Wood Cemetery, including Leonard Bernstein.
Memorial Day in Prospect Park
Kids can ride carousels, plant potatoes, feed animals and take part in other fun and educational activities from noon until 5pm in and around the Prospect Park Audubon Center.
Memorial Day Concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
The Philharmonic's annual free Memorial Day concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is a favorite in the lead-up to summer. Tickets are given starting at 6pm on a first-come, first-served basis, and they go fast; best to line up early if you want a spot.